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AARAKSHAN: Watch with Reservations

© Hindi Cinema Blog
Prakash Jha's new film, Aarakshan, touches upon the controversial subject of caste and has done so in such a straightforward way, according to three Indian states (Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh) that they have banned its screening, fearing that it might spark bouts of communal violence. Other measures taken in order to ensure safety in relation to the film, have included providing special protection in certain movie theaters where Aarakshan is being screened, as well as protecting the film's well-known actors.

Aarakshan's setting is in a school in which Amitabh Bachchan, the principal, must face the delicate issue of   caste-based quotas. The controversy started once the first look of the film was launched. However, even if the film does indeed allude to Aarakshan at some point in the beginning of the story, the rest of the script is less concerned by it as it develops into a critique of education in India.

The film serves serious and even grave dialogues to its audience. While most of the actors have had a strong amount of experience in delivering all types of dialogue, the script still seems to have a fairly "political rhetoric" style and one has to wonder if this was an effect sought by Prakash Jha or if there was just no other way of delivering the script.

Saif Ali Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Prateik Babbar deliver the drama the trailers promised though this is probably not one of their best script choices. One cannot be as empathetic with Deepika Padukone, who has, in my personal opinion, multiplied the number of so-so films she has participated in ever since she became a coveted beauty in the film industry. While some members of the audience may sustain that the demoiselle does not really know how to act, I would like to see her in a good film with a meaty role, where she can finally either convince everyone that she cannot act indeed or convince them otherwise and win all the applause hands down. Recently, seeing Padukone in a poster has become a synonym for me of a movie I might just want to give a skip because I am very wary of her filmic taste and judgement.

In any case, the talented cast and talented director cannot save a script that tries to bring up an issue without going beyond its surface while dictating endless principles to those who paid a ticket to watch. If Aarakshan had indeed delved into the issue at hand and also remained focused on it with simple but efficient dialogue, it would have had the merit of making the audience ponder on what it set out to open a debate on. However, confining the film to rant about the state of education in India through a black and white lens is unfortunately not enough for the audiences who will flock to watch a Big B film.

The soundtrack has a musical all-star cast with Shankar Ehsaan Loy, Shreya Goshal and Prasoon Joshi, among others, creating the mood of the film.

Watch for the ever shining Amitabh Bachchan. Watch for a grave tone and opening a certain debate on education (not particularly on caste reservations). However, there are other films that do the same more efficiently in my opinion. The film has the merit of trying to bravely open debate on a social issue but we wish the writers had scripted better in order to achieve this.

Visit the Aarakshan official website
Follow Aarakshan on Facebook
Purchase the Aarakshan soundtrack

Directed by: Prakash Jha
Screenplay: Prakash Jha, Anjum Rajabali
Music by: Shankar Ehsaan Loy
Amitabh Bachchan...     Prabhakar Anand
Saif Ali Khan       ...            Deepak Kumar
Manoj Bajpai     ...            Mithilesh Singh
Deepika Padukone...     Poorvi
Prateik Babbar...             Sushant Seth

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